ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - It’s been about a year and a half since Jasmine Block was taken from her Alexandria home and held against her will for 29 days before escaping from three men by swimming across a lake to safety.
The past 600 days have not been easy for her.
She has been hospitalized on several occasions due to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, continues to struggle with nightmares, and meets with a counselor when she is going through a rough time, according to her mom, Sarah Block.
Last month, Jasmine had the opportunity to go to Texas and meet with a PTSD specialist and author, Dr. Frank Lawlis. That meeting came courtesy of the "Dr. Phil" nationally-syndicated television show, on which the Block family appeared March 19.
Recently Jasmine and Sarah sat down to discuss what it was like to be featured on the popular daytime talk show, along with their appointment with Lawlis, who is a consultant on the show and was Dr. Phil McGraw’s professor.
Easy to talk to
Quiet and somewhat shy, the now 16-year-old Jasmine said, in very few words, that she enjoyed meeting Dr. Phil and being on his show. She said he was so kind and that she liked him.
“He was easy to talk to,” she said softly. “It felt good.”
Happy was the word she used to describe how she felt about the experience. When asked why, she said it was because she was getting to talk to someone about what happened to her during the time she was held captive.
She also said, in true teenage fashion, that she really enjoyed getting her hair and makeup done.
Sarah, who would sometimes elaborate on her daughter’s brief answers, said Jasmine’s motivation to share her story on the show was to help others who have had similar experiences.
The mother and daughter talked about the 13-year-old girl from Barron, Wisconsin, Jayme Closs, who was abducted last fall, held captive for more than 80 days and then escaped.
“I’m proud of her for doing what she did,” Jasmine said.
Sarah hopes the two girls can meet one day and share their experiences with one another.
Help with the nightmares
On March 12, Sarah and Jasmine flew down to Texas to meet with the PTSD specialist, an appointment provided by Dr. Phil.
Although she didn’t share much about the appointment, Jasmine called it fun and helpful. The doctor, Sarah explained, talked with both of them at first and then had a one-on-one conversation with Jasmine. Sarah said the doctor performed a sound wave test on her daughter and after, Jasmine received two machines – the emWave 2 and the Bio Acoustical Utilization Device invented by Lawlis – to bring home to help her with her anxiety, nightmares and other PTSD symptoms.
One machine hooks to her earlobe and has a monitor with lights that dictate to her how she should be breathing. It helps to calm her down, Sarah said.
The other one has headphones and CDs for her to listen to. Jasmine said it was hard to explain what she is listening to, but described it as buzzing. Her mom said it was white noise. Jasmine said she listens to the CDs at night because they help her avoid nightmares. She said listening to the machine makes her feel good and relaxes her.
Time was right
About a month or so after her daughter came home, Sarah was contacted by a representative from the "Dr. Phil" show asking if they wanted to appear.
At that point, Sarah said no.
“They asked if they could stay in touch with us and I told them they could,” Sarah said. “I said after the court cases were over we might be ready. I just wanted to get through everything.”
She was contacted again after the last court case finished up in December, but again said no.
However, on Feb. 14, Sarah was asked if the family could fly out to Los Angeles on that Sunday. She first spoke with Jasmine, who said she wanted to do it.
Sarah also spoke with the rest of the family, including her daughter, Paige, and her husband Eric Coyer, and her daughter, Abey, and Abey’s boyfriend Chris Hoff, who all went on the trip with Sarah and Jasmine.
Sarah then told the "Dr. Phil" show representative that yes, they would appear on the show.
“I really didn’t have time to process everything,” said Sarah, a longtime fan of the show.
The "Dr. Phil" taping took place on Feb. 20 and the family flew home the following day. Along with Jasmine, Sarah and Paige appeared on the show.
“He is a really nice guy, really easy going,” said Sarah. “And he’s a lot taller in person.”
Appearing on the show was about what Sarah expected, although the behind-the-scenes stuff, such as hair and makeup and picking out clothes, involved a lengthy process. They spent about five hours on the set, but only talked with Dr. Phil for about an hour. There was no studio audience when their segment was taped.
Sarah and Jasmine each said it was a good experience, and felt it was helpful.
For Jasmine, who also said that hanging out with friends, talking to her brother-in-law and coloring are therapeutic, things are getting better every day.
When asked if she had anything else that she wanted to share, Jasmine smiled and said, “Let everyone know I am doing OK.”